The Apprentice Recap: A Fish Fiasco
The Apprentice returned last night for a new series of egotistical candidates, intense business challenges and epic Lord Sugar put downs. Here’s our first episode recap.
We start with the eighteen “would-be tycoons” as usual, and they’re the perfect amount of big-headed.
“I want the cars. I want the girls. But most of all, I want the power,” says one hopeful.
“I have the right chemical makeup to be an entrepreneur. Every single morning I wake up with a surge of adrenaline around my body because I want to be a global phenomenon,” says another, confessing her lack of knowledge of human science.
“I’m like a Swiss army knife of business skills. I’m a captain at the front of a cavalry charge. I race forward and people follow,” says another, presumably a Game of Thrones fan.
First off, we’re in the boardroom as the eighteen hopefuls hand in their business plans. Already we have a winner for most sharply dressed:
The candidates are invited into the boardroom for the first time, where Lord Sugar and Karen Brady await. Lord Sugar announces his newest aide: “If you think this process was tough, it’s just got a whole lot tougher.”
And here he is!
Dun dun dun. It’s the terrifying interview guy, Claude Littner. To refresh your memory, here he is ripping apart the adorable Solomon last year. The would-be apprentices are surprised – apparently they didn’t read the press release issued several months back.
After a quick recap on what The Apprentice is about for noobs, Lord Sugar talks to the candidates about their CVs.
First up is Joseph Valente, he’s the “master of persuasion with the women” and “aspires to Hugh Hefner”. The women all share an outward laugh and an inward sudden desire to ensure Joseph has no children in the future.
Next there’s Charleine, whose name has difficulty passing through my autocorrect, who was formerly in the navy and plans to make Lord Sugar £175 million with her hairdressing business proposal.
“Is that all?” says Lord Sugar.
Next we have Dan. He wants to be like Alexander the Great, who at the age of 30 conquered the world. There’s no mention of the fact poor Alex then died at 32, of a cause historians can’t agree on. I think it was exhaustion.
Then the first task is announced. The two teams will go to Billingsgate market to buy fresh fish to turn into product and sell to the London lunch crowd. The two teams – now mixed gender for the first time in a first round ever – head off to get acquainted.
Joseph is undeterred by Elle telling him she would kick her boyfriend where the sun don’t shine if he confessed to aspiring to be Hugh Hefner, and explains his sad backstory. Unfortunately, poor Joseph was expelled from school as a kid. He’s since then turned his life around and become “The Godfather of business”. I can’t wait for that movie.
Meanwhile, Selina endears herself to the group by announcing she’s the boss of her own company and gets ratty when people don’t do what they’re told.
Selina used to be a podium dancer, which is not the same thing as a pole dancer, she tells us sternly.
The group also discuss their thoughts on the new mixed gender teams, with Charleine expressing delight, though two men are less excited:
Oh no you didn’t.
After a quick arrival at the house, we’re discussing team names. Charleine likes ‘Illustrious’ because it’s the name of a ship and they’re doing a fish challenge. Nobody tells her this is an awful idea, so they quickly change the subject. The group will be called ‘Versatile’ for obvious reasons.
Across the hall, Dan thinks it would be funny to call the team The Sugar Babes. There is a scattering of pained laughter before Brett, who has clearly done his homework, proposes the name Connexus, which is latin for united. The team are happy with that, though I can’t imagine Alan Sugar’s a big fan of poncy languages like latin.
Next it’s project managers, and no one on Team Versatile really fancies it.
Eventually Selina basically says she knows a bit about food because she’s intolerant to a lot of foods, which causes the rest of the group to pounce on her and proclaim her project manager. Excuse me, she just said she COULDN’T eat
a lot of food. Obviously she’s ideal for a food task then.
Team Connexus could not have a more different experience. Boutique owner April instantly puts herself forward as a food blogger, and then proceeds to make all the decisions about what food the team will be making, taking consultation from no one.
Team Versatile, as expected, is chaos. Everyone shouts over one another. Somehow the ineffectual project manager Selina hears fish fingers and calamari over all the yelling, and that’s what they go with.
The next morning the team get down to Billingsgate where April makes an immediate booboo, purchasing cod from the first seller she finds. Ruth tries desperately to bargain with the fish salesman, but April is having none of it.
Meanwhile, Charleine – who is not project manager but one would never know that – bargains down the price of coley, a cheap cod substitute that sounds disgusting. Here she is showing us (but unfortunately not April) how it’s done:
Team Versatile find some ridiculously low priced squid and ultimately buy it after some negotiation. The quality of the squid is grim.
No one notices.
In the kitchen, April begins preparing her tuna salads. When Karen asks her how much she’ll be selling them for, she replies £9.
£9 for a bit of fish and lettuce prepared by amateurs!
She’s put Brett in charge of making fishcakes, and Brett is very keen on things being “as per the instructions” – a quote he repeats several times. There is a lot of arguing over finances and only eggs have been cooked at 10am.
Meanwhile, team Versatile have a little production line set up:
And they’ve made some fish fingers that actually do look like fish fingers:
With the history of The Apprentice in mind, I do consider this a success.
Selina and Charleine head off to sell the products already made, leaving others in the kitchen cooking the remainder, in order to meet the lunchtime rush.
The sellers head off, and it emerges we have a young Shakespeare in the Apprentice ranks this year:
Over at Connexus, Brett and April face off over the size of the fishcakes. They’re “as per the specifications” Brett repeats stubbornly when April challenges him. They ABSOLUTELY MUST be 2.5cm deep.
Guess where Versatile are selling their fish fingers and calamari?
If you couldn’t figure it out, the narrator says it’s Camden. It’s Camden. Can you tell?
Meanwhile, Connexus are still in the kitchen.
And when they finally arrive at Broadgate Circle (not as clearly highlighted as Camden, I must say), it’s 1.30pm and hardly anyone is there. Those who are there aren’t hungry, having already finished lunch.
It’s still an opportunity for Ruth to show off her “creepy” selling skills in what must be a highlight of the episode:
Ruth can sell fish while stroking a man’s arm saying “lovely! Aren’t you solid?” – Who knew? She’s an instant favourite.
Dan, on the other hand, can’t sell anything.
Finally, there are cracks in the otherwise impressive Versatile outfit, when they realise that keeping the raw squid outside in the boiling heat has caused it to be way above optimum temperature. It’s now ruined.
The whole lot is binned, to the team’s dismay.
Natalie, in particular, is horrified.
Meanwhile, team Connexus have finally worked out a way to sell their product! Accept any price – as long as it means a sale! Genius.
Finally, the selling day is over and both teams celebrate surviving the first task. It’s short lived, because the next day is the boardroom, and Team Versatile are first up.
They’ve sold £467.50 worth of fish which with costs of £267.21 means they have made £200.29 in profit. It’s actually a pretty solid result for The Apprentice.
Connexus on the other hand, are more like what I expect in the first round. £1.87 profit after selling £343.53 and buying £341.66.
That makes Versatile the humble winners. They get a sushi masterclass from the head chef at Nobu. Nice.
Lord Sugar tells Connexus that £1.87 is a “disgusting result”.
They’re off to talk about what they’ve done in our favourite place.
Project manager April’s keen to blame everyone but herself. Brett, she says, was obsessed with the fishcake size – which is true. Then there’s Dan, who can’t sell a thing. Brett blames Dan’s slow maths skills in getting the food in the first place.
Meanwhile, Vana points out that Jenny, Elle and Aisha – three women apparently on the team who I am reasonably sure I’ve never seen before – are getting off free for doing nothing. She has a very valid point.
Back in the boardroom, April, Brett and Dan each argue about who was the worst at their job. It’s no surprise when April chooses to take Dan and Brett back in the boardroom with her, letting the rest off.
The case for April is as follows: she was project manager, decisive, but decided on a low margin product, and basically but the other bozos in charge.
Alan Sugar shares my feelings about the £9 salad. “You weren’t selling it in the Ritz!” he says.
The case for Brett is as follows: he made no mention of his history as a former SOUS CHEF in a fish restaurant, then made the fishcakes so big that they only had 89 instead of the 300 desired. What he definitely does mention however, is that there were specifications, damn it!
The case for Dan is as follows: He took half an hour to work out all the maths for the products. Then he forgot to buy crucial equipment. He also can’t sell and he can’t cook.
Lord Sugar asks Dan who should be fired.
“I don’t know,” says Dan.
“What do you know?” asks Sugar.
“I know maths, I know figures…” What an all-rounder.
And Dan is outta there!
It’s a close call for April, but she and Brett are allowed to return to the house.
The Apprentice will air again tonight at 9pm on BBC One.